Thursday, December 28, 2006

Adrien Sane. aka: The Towne Cryer

Adrien is almost back in Boulder finally. His travels have taken back home to Switzerland, bouldering across France and Spain and reprising New York and Arkansas. Along the way he has managed to create mind-melting designs and photography. Visit his newly designed website and support his passion. If you can dig his vision then you can wear it. His threads are designed personally and made locally.

photos: Adrien Sane

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Visual #9

photos: me

Trixie Tartasky. A move through "First Overhang" V7, Flagstaff Mountain.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Un Petit Paradis Dans Rocklands

photos: me
pic 1: Chuck Fryberger 2nd ascent and first to top out "Ghost in the Darkness" V10.

pic 2: Wills Young 2nd ascent of Pinotage Sds V10

pic 3: Daniel Woods works "Out of Balance" V11
pic 4: Chuck Fryberger First Ascent Unamed V8

The Negative Space of Utah

The Negative Space of Carter Lake

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Visual # 8

Nick Sherman working one of Eldo's

many distant hard boulders. "Lost" V11
photo: me

Eldorado Springs Bottled Water 2

Daniel Woods through the crux sequence of "Lost" V11... as a warm-up. photos: me

...later Daniel sticking the dyno move of "Suspension of Disbelief" V13 on top-rope rehearsal before working out the moves to the sit-start. Paul also sent the stand, V12, in 30 minutes.

Eldorado Springs Bottled Water

Paul Robinson on the 2nd Ascent of "Elegant Infinite" V9, second try.
photos: me

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Just Because Fred. Because Grapes. Because V16.

"Amandala, in my mind, is the hardest boulder problem in the world. Fred says it contains the hardest move he has ever done. One which took him many years to complete. Forget about all other problems you think may be world standards. Amandala is way better.

As Raether and I took off into the Rocklands to find new problems we decided to walk through a marsh in the fading light, scramble up a few tiers of rock and take a look into the unknown. With the car running and waiting for us, I could hear the honking from over a mile away! "Just around one more corner, just one more" we'd say every time we saw a nice block. Then it appeared. A concentration of boulders called "The Roadcrew." Most boulders were overhung and over 50 feet tall. You wouldn't believe me if you saw them. Right smack in the middle there was a clearing. In that clearing was a steep marbled face 20 feet tall. No way, I said, as the light completely faded, and we sprinted back in the dark to our impatient friends. We were soaked to our knees from the marsh. (In hind sight was surely filled with Cobras and Mambas).

At first light we went back to the boulder and touched the holds of Amandala in crisp winter air. DAMN I SAY!!!! DAMMMMM!!! I wish I could climb this thing. If I knew that I could climb it, even some day, I would dedicate my life to the second ascent of this boulder. There is a lot of ground to cover on the rock though and oddly are only 4 tiny slopey crimps and no feet. Compared to even the other v15 or v16 boulder problems I have seen, all of which have holds, this line looks impossible. The crux is sticking the sloper hold on the lip like 6 feet from the worst crimp you have ever seen. Locals say to even mantle off this hold (which one must do) is solid v11. A fucking 8a mantle! Twenty feet off the deck! Word is the only time he was able to stick the crux, both his feet cut and he swung way out, and Fred pressed the mantle first try.

Forget even doing these 2 moves in a row. To even get to the crux was way more than even a fresh Daniel Woods could master. Whose even motivated knowing a v11 mantle awaits the next sucker to stick the hardest move in the world.

When I first met Fred Nicole, I arrived at his house on accident while looking for a local farmer needing permission to climb on his land. We pulled into a wine farm and drove up to a farm house in the middle of a large vineyard. It was ten in the morning and the grapes were out of season, empty vines wrapping like viens through the fences and onto the sides of the cottage. Out walks Fred Nicole in only his boxer shorts, with a cup of coffee. Rolled up under his armpit was a sudoku game-book with just enough showing that i could see he had mastered the numerical puzzle. He was followed by two farm dogs, and sat down to roll his morning smoke. He gave us the beta we needed to find the Alpha-Farmer and where to go once we did. Fred asked me if I had been able to find the Roadcrew or if I tried Amandala yet. I said, "not yet," leaving my strength, for now, to his imagination.

Or until we actually went climbing.

Which we did.

Which I looked weak.

photo: David De Siebenthal

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Visual # 6

Unknown Problem, Fields of Joy, Alpha-Farms, Rocklands
photos: Keith Ladzinski

There is such perfect bullet sandstone all over South Africa. The Rocklands is only one of very many new areas in this vast and rocky country being developed. The underside of this boulder had a perfect crimp rail out of the roof for 20 feet that led into another 15 feet of hard face climbing, an undoubtable pure line. This roof is unmarked but for the holds you must use. I never finished the problem because I couldn't keep my heel on for the extended move in these photos. (click photos to enlarge) One of the many that got away.

the Visual # 5

"Pardon My French" 3rd Ascent, Curbside Area, Rocklands
photo: Keith Ladzinski
This is my first send of the trip. Andy Raether spotted this line on our first rainy day in the Rocklands right off the side of the road to our tea-farm. The boulder seemed bottom half Hueco, top half Fontainbleau and had one really nice problem on it: crimpers to a huge dyno and a slopey top-out. This is one of the many classic boulders that didn't make the final cut for "Specimen"... but just may be looming out there somewhere?

Monday, December 4, 2006

Minki, Lisa, and The Killer Bees

It was nice to have someone to climb my projects with in the Rocklands. With most people in my group able to climb v13, I spent most days alone under the endless amount of boulder problems above my limit.

As I searched out the Alpha-Farms for something new to inspire me, I walked around a corner and found beautiful dead horizontal roof with perfect pinches. "Minki" it was called, I would find out later, but today it had no chalk on it. I called my friends over to see it. Andy and Chuck completed it quickly, and Daniel managed to send it in half an hour or so. It had Lisa and my name all over it After a few hours Lisa and I had figured out all the knee-bars, toe-hooks, heel-hooks, and thumb catches needed to climb it in the hard v8 range. By nightfall, and after a stern"you need to rest and regain your energy" lecture, she topped it out. It would be another very weird day for us yet on Minki.

The following morning Lisa woke me up and said how the temps were perfect for "Minki" and that I should get up and go. She already had a strong black tea made and offered to drive, carry the pads, and spot me until I finished it. No pressure Lisa.

After a few hours of falling off the powerful and awkward crux, (see: move from my photo into Lisa's "knee-bar into toe-hook, double-undercling-pinch match), I got a good "you need to rest" lecture from the all knowing sender of this thing. Then the weirdest thing happened? The sound of a freight train appeared to be coming around the boulder to us?

Bees. Honey Bees. Africanized Honey Bees. Killer Bees! By the tens of thousands, in a grey cloud so thick, it looked like smoke. It was the wildflower season for the Alpha-Farms and they were on the move. Within seconds the first bee landed on Lisa's bright pink tank-top. A pink that perfectly matched the fields of flowers that surrounded us. She panicked as we both froze solid. I figured it was an optimal time to share my Discovery Channel knowledge of Killer Bees. "Lisa, don't touch it, and don't run. These bees can put out a pheromone that will attract the entire colony to attack you." I told her. She decided anyway that we were to run in 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2...."Wait!" I said, "One more try on Minki!" Before she could say anything I pulled into the problem.

I remember her eyes as big as silver dollars. I didn't have time to hear her say how "this isn't a good time." This was as good a time as any if we are going to die soon! The bees were getting closer and some were landing on the holds of the problem. In agonizing fear I cruised through the crux and skipped the knee-bar rest on the way to the finishing dyno. There just wasn't the time. I jumped from the boulder and we took off in full sprint for the car a 1/2 a mile away. I could feel phantom feelings of bees crawling under my clothes but I laughed the whole way! We got to the car in 2 minutes, locked the doors, and proceeded to flick-off our impending doom. I had already forgotten sending my hardest problem to date 2 minutes after doing it, and Lisa never wore the pink tank-top again. True story.

photos: Keith Ladzinski

The Visual #4

"Slap Happy" v6 Rock Garden @ Penitente Canyon
photo: Keith Ladazinski
This is one of the best problems in the canyon, a double arete called, "Slap Happy", first climbed by Phillip Benningfield last winter. You must establish a perched foot on a dime edge to lift off the ground and fire out for the left arete. Slap your way through 3 or 4 "right slap, left slap" arete moves, and make the long reach for a slopey summit. It took me 3 days to do the scary mantle just ahead of me in this photo. A classic boulder problem.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Speaking of Huecos?

...ever seen a transition between bigger ones? I found this boulder hiking around our first day in South Africa next to the road. I called over the hill for the big guns.

Chuck Fryberger, First Ascent, v8 highballzzzz, Rocklands, ZA
Later that evening Andy Raether set up for the second ascent, and made the insecure move to a crimp over the lip of the boulder. He missed it. Here in the lower photo I am spotting him, well I am trying to anyway. Andy flew thirty feet and over my head! He missed the pads completely and narrowly missed an ankle crushing boulder by a mere inch. Andy sat out almost a full week with bruised heels. I'm sorry bro.
photo 1: me
photo 2: Keith Ladzinski

Hueco Tanks

photos by: Keith Ladzinski

photo 1: Local Flakes v3

photo 2: Unamed Highabll v3

photo 3: Lithologic v4

The Sleeping Giant

Hidden in the far corner of North Mountain was an undone boulder problem that climbs the under-belly of a 50 foot boulder. A sleeping giant. Chuck took me to the project, because he likes to try it every time he is in Hueco. He has tried the project for many years, hoping maybe one day he would stick the giant 45 degree dyno to the lip of the boulder.

The problem starts as a jump start off a 4 foot boulder into good holds that eventually lead into a giant Hueco, one that if turned right side up, could easily be a kiddie pool. A luxurious one at that. The five or so moves it takes to climb into, and out of, this massive hole sets you up for the dyno. (see Jason Kehl photo)The move is committing and difficult. Stick the dyno and you must finish with another 30 feet of overhanging 5.12 with no landing to even speak of. After many days of effort this winter, Chuck's "little" project saw numerous attempts by Chris Sharma, Jason Kehl, and Dave Graham. Graham sent the line eventually, and names it properly "The Sleeping Giant" v12. Moments after establishing what is easily one of the best problems on North Mountain, the area was closed by the Park Service due to the boulder's proximity to natural rock art. And the giant sleeps. Again.

photo 1: Jason by: Unknown
photo 2: Chuck & I by: Justin Jaegar